26 July 2022

ACT records 949 new COVID-19 infections; nationwide hospitalisations hit record highs

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra hospital emergency department

There are 151 patients with COVID-19 in the Territory’s hospitals, down from a record high of 171 on Monday, 18 July. Photo: File.

The ACT has reported 949 (461 PCR and 488 RAT) new COVID-19 infections in the 24 hours to 8 pm last night as the country’s pandemic hospitalisations hit record highs.

Locally, hospitalisations have declined to 151 today from the record high of 171 on Monday, 18 July.

Yesterday, there were 5429 people in hospital with the virus around the country – up on the previous record of 5390 set at the peak of the Omicron wave in January.

But the number of people requiring intensive care with the virus was significantly lower than earlier this year.

In January, ICU numbers peaked at 420. Yesterday, there were 161 people in ICUs with COVID-19 around the country.

Those numbers have consistently remained low in the ACT with few patients requiring intensive care and even fewer requiring ventilation.

There is one person in the ICU.

NSW had the largest proportion of hospitalisations with 2300, but the ACT and Tasmania had the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalised on a per capita basis.

The spike in hospitalisations comes as Australia’s per capita cases and death toll were third highest in the world in the last week.

However, infectious disease expert at the ANU Professor Peter Collignon has warned against direct comparisons between countries in winter and those in summer as respiratory illnesses are more prevalent in colder months.

For example, the overall pandemic death toll of the US per million people is much higher than in Australia.

Nonetheless, the spiking hospitalisations is only adding to the ongoing pressure on the healthcare system due to high patient demand, ongoing staff shortages exacerbated by illness and generally burnt-out staff after more than two years of the pandemic.

Dave Peffer

Canberra Health Services boss Dave Peffer said Canberra Hospital is under extreme pressure, but the system will stand up to the test. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Two weeks ago, Canberra Health Services CEO Dave Peffer said the hospital would survive this winter period but it would come at a cost to patients and staff, and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has described the current situation as the “worst time” in the pandemic.

Nonetheless, despite warnings of COVID-19 cases doubling and even so much as trebling to 2000 or 3000 by the end of July or early August, caseloads have so far not hit those record highs.

In the week ending Sunday, 17 July, cases decreased for the first time in five weeks. However, the rolling mean remained stable at 1100 to 1200 cases a day.

Authorities remain on guard as the beginning of Term Two brought increased caseloads. There are fears the same could happen this term.

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There are now 5613 (3053 PCR and 2560 RAT) known active infections in the Territory and a total of 186,577 (110,920 PCR and 75,657 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Yesterday, there were 162 people in hospital, including one in intensive care, and the ACT reported 790 cases.

ACT Health is providing weekly vaccination updates on Fridays.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 30 deaths overnight and 14,067 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 2344 people in hospital with the virus and 66 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 40 deaths overnight and 12,339 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 869 people hospitalised with the virus and 39 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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Capital Retro7:45 am 27 Jul 22

Overnight, news that RATS tests are not working on the new strain. It’s going to get a lot worse.

Once everyone gets their 6th booster this will all be under control.

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